Well… it wasn’t Aladdin: The Musical, but it was one of my first pantomime experiences! An easy-to-watch bit of fun 🙂
Originally posted on The AU Review.
An enjoyable theatre experience is the combination of two things- naturally it is the performance itself, but it is also the audience. Very often the energy of the audience determines the success of the performance on stage so when you have an audience full of the uncontained excitement of children you are sure to feel a buzz! In Aladdin and his Wonderous Lamp it is the delight and participation of the children in the audience make the night a thoroughly enjoyable piece of entertainment.
Aladdin is a modern family pantomime- combining music, song, dance, slapstick comedy and a script packed with topical jokes. The production is light hearted and fun, taking us through the magical tale of Aladdin and his magic lamp. This is not the Disney version of the tale mind, but closer to the original tales from The Arabian Nights. With a modern-ish sort of twist.
In this tale Aladdin (Mat Verevis) is the son of a (cross-dressing) washer-woman (Ian “Dicko” Dickson) who falls for the Princess Yasmina (Lauren Brant) after gazing at her through and apple orchid. The evil wizard Abanazar (Josh Adamson) attempts to trick him into retrieving the lamp of the Genie (Beau Ryan), but the lamp falls into the hands of Aladdin first- who wishes for the wealth to marry the princess. This is, of course, all told along with the help of several recognizable pop songs that you can clap and sing along to. Think the Princess singing Britney Spears, Abanazar singing Phil Collins and a cross-dressing Dicko singing Taylor Swift.
As our tale continues now-rich Aladdin is all set to marry the princess, but Abanazar tricks her and gets his hands on the lamp. He then whisks the princess away to naturally await rescuing by ol’ Al and everyone lives happily ever after!
There are some truly fun characters along the way as well- Aladdin’s brother Wishee Wahee (Kev Orkian) is a whole lot of entertainment, and interacts with the crowd to keep the energy high and the laughter flowing. I also thought Abanazar was quite hilarious in his role, and brought the character a delightful joviality.
It’s really Beau Ryan as the Genie who stands out here though, and not just because of that body (although that certainly does stand out). Although his acting skills might not quite be up there you can tell he’s really going all out and putting in his full effort, and the crowd LOVES him. He takes on the genie character brilliantly, bringing to it a wonderful sense of humor and delightful charm that makes him easy to like.
What makes pantomime really special is the amount of interaction with the audience. The crowd is instructed to boo for the evil characters (which they do loudly and with relish, poor Abanazar!) and cheer for the good characters. They loudly call out suggestions for the characters, settling comfortably into their role within the panto. The actors make a considerable effort to keep this interaction high, talking and joking with several audience members and further encouraging loud reactions. It’s lots of fun! It wouldn’t work if the audience didn’t respond, but with half of the crowd children you soon find adults to be bellowing “hissssss” out just as loudly as their younger counterparts.
With dazzlingly colorful costumes, sets and lighting this Aladdin pantomime is a delight to watch. There may not be anything exceptionally remarkable here in terms of acting and singing, but there doesn’t really need to be. The lightheartedness of the comedy moves the performance along and you can clearly hear the delight in the young audience. This is a great night of enjoyable family fun that will put a smile on everyone’s face, especially with the help of one rather muscular and smirking genie.